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New Mexico offers pay bump to prekindergarten teachers

SANTA FE – State officials responsible for early childhood education in New Mexico say that prekindergarten teachers deserve the same salaries as teachers of older students, and they’re willing to pay for it.

Preschool teachers not licensed for special education earn on average about $35,000 in most areas of New Mexico, according to 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Early Childhood Education and Care Department said Thursday its pay parity program could support about 200 educators. Total salaries could increase to between $41,000 and about $65,500. The pay bump will be based on pay scales for public school staff.

“Despite the fact that many Pre-K teachers and directors hold advanced educational degrees and qualifications comparable to their colleagues in K-12, their pay is typically much lower,” said Elizabeth Groginsky, early childhood education secretary.

The pay parity program is open to an estimated 200 workers who hold a degree in early childhood education, and has already selected at least one qualified advocate, the department said. They said her income increased by $1,300.

Federal and state funding has allowed massive spending by the department, including the broadest family childhood subsidy in the nation. Families at 350% of the federal poverty line – $93,000 for a family of four –are eligible.